There are three classes of significant phonological elements in
Comanche — consonants, vowels and final features. 1 Among the con-
sonants, each oral stop (and the affricate) has, underlyingly, the
shape of a single stop. Final features affect these stops in such a
way that, depending on the stop, the result is a two-, three-, or four-
way surface contrast. The nasals are affected by final features in a
somewhat different way.
Vowels occur in three surface forms: short, long, and voiceless.
Voiceless vowels arise from short, unstressed vowels. The most
common position for stress is the first syllable of the word. Excep-
tions to this pattern are marked with an acute accent over the
The structure of the typical morpheme is CVCV, but there are
The phonological elements are presented in table 2.1. Table 2.2
presents the transcription I use for the allophones of many of the
consonants and vowels.
2.1.1. Final features
Final features is the term used by students of the Numic lan-
guages to designate a form of morphologically conditioned conso-
nant gradation found in those languages. The term describes a phe-
nomenon whereby the shape of a consonant (such as lenis, fortis,
prenasalized, and so forth) is determined by a feature posited to ter-
minate the stem or affix that immediately precedes the consonant
intervocalically, and between words in rapid speech (i.e., when not
interrupted by a pause). The term is rather misleading, because
consonants within morphemes are similarly affected, and because in
some cases the initial consonant of a stem or affix may have an in-
variant shape. When the initial consonant has an invariant shape,
it is said to "begin" with a final feature. Precisely which consonants
Table 2.1. Phonological Elements
bilabial dental palatal velar labiovelar glottal
p t, ts k kw 9
LENGTH (Vowel length is indicated by doubled vowels.)
FINAL FEATURES lenis fortis preaspirated aspirated
(no mark) - = -H -h
STRESS (Stress is marked ' when noninitial.)
Table 2.2. Phonetic Forms of Some Phonological Elements
t, ts k
Charney, Jean Ormsbee. 1993. A Grammar of Comanche.
London/Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.